A patient comes into our office at Bock Integrative Medicine with 3 days of flu-like symptoms and a bulls-eye rash. This is Lyme disease and the treatment is usually quite simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, this presentation represents less than one percent of the people who come to us for Lyme treatment.
Most of our Lyme patients come with a long history of many symptoms and many doctor visits. They’ve seen a host of specialists and received a wide array of different opinions. They’ve spent many hours on the internet trying to make sense of their condition and all the conflicting information they’ve received. They’re trying to sort out a very complex situation at a time when their cognitive function may be compromised. They’re frustrated and confused and looking for answers.
Lyme disease, which we call Tick Borne Disease, is complicated and there are many things about it that we don’t fully understand, but our approach is reflected in the answers to these common questions:
Is chronic Lyme Disease a real condition?
We subscribe to the general principles of the International Lyme Associated Disease Society. It has been our definite experience that people with persistent symptoms after an initial (often inadequate) course of therapy have ongoing Lyme disease. The persistence of the Lyme organism has been demonstrated in numerous studies.
Do negative lab tests prove that there is no Lyme disease?
Lab tests can be helpful in many situations, but they are not definitive. We have had many patients improve with treatment though they never had positive lab tests. The diagnosis of Tick Borne Disease is based mostly on medical history (the patient’s symptoms), and it’s therefore helpful to work with an experienced physician.
Are prolonged, high dose antibiotics the main therapy for Tick Borne Disease?
We certainly use antibiotics, but we have found that rigorous care of the immune system is a critical component of treatment. This entails adequate levels of micronutrients (minerals and vitamins), maintenance of good intestinal flora, balancing hormones such as thyroid and adrenals, and insuring adequate rest and sleep. We also employ herbs and homeopathy as therapeutic agents for Tick Borne Disease.
Can Lyme Disease be cured or is relapse inevitable?
We certainly have patients who are treated and have no further symptoms. Some people have residual symptoms which may reflect injury to nerves or joints, but this is uncommon.
Others may have recurrence long after treatment. This is often associated with stress or trauma or steroids, etc. We believe that there is probably silent persistence of the organisms which is kept in check by the immune system, and that these ‘stressors’ compromise immune ‘control’ of the condition.
People who relapse quickly may be dealing with clotting issues or biofilms and there are strategies for addressing those problems. Others may have problems with heavy metal overload or mold toxicity.
Recently it has been hypothesized that some individuals have ongoing symptoms which reflect inflammation or autoimmunity triggered by the organism, much like strep triggers rheumatic fever. This may explain why some people don’t respond satisfactorily to treatment. We are now exploring a new immunologic therapy to address this phenomenon.